(CNN) – Possible 2012 GOP White House hopeful Tim Pawlenty says he will not take sides in most Republican primary battles next year.
In an interview with the New Hampshire Union Leader, the two-term Minnesota governor says he will not endorse or have his political action committee contribute to Republican Senate or House candidates who are competing in "open, transparent" primary campaigns, including the GOP Senate primary battle heating up in the Granite State.
Pawlenty, along with many other Republicans, backed conservative candidate Dough Hoffman over Republican party nominee Dede Scozzafava in this autumn's intra-party fight in a special election for the House Seat in New York's 23 Congressional District.
Pawlenty told the Union Leader that he took sides because local party bosses used an "incredibly flawed, insular, closed and unfair process" to chose the Scozzafava, who he said was far too liberal on key issues.
Scozzafava eventually dropped out of the race just three days before the election. The Democrat in the contest won the election, taking a district Republicans have controlled for more than a century.
Pawlenty was the featured speaker Wednesday night at a fundraiser in Concord for New Hampshire State Senate Republicans.
In the interview with the Union Leader, Pawlenty said if his party hopes to regain the trust of the American people that it lost earlier this decade, it must return to its conservative roots and then practice what it preaches.
"We've got to explain using conservative principles, conservative ideas and values, why our approach, even if it may not be instant gratification, is better for families and individuals and regular working people all across this country on those kind of issues, those bread and butter, meat and potatoes issues," said Pawlenty.
Pawlenty announced this past summer he would not seek a third term as governor next year, fueling speculation he is setting his sights on a presidential bid instead. Since then, he's become a frequent speaker at major Republican and conservative conferences across the country. He also took on a high profile role as vice chairman of the Republican Governor's Association.
The governor also rolled out a new political action committee in October and announced a group of new advisers, several of whom advised Pawlenty's likely 2012 rival - former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney - during his 2008 presidential bid. Last month, Pawlenty traveled to Iowa to headline the state GOP's annual leadership dinner, one of the two major annual events for the state party. Iowa's caucuses kick off the presidential primary season.
New Hampshire's primary is traditionally the second contest on the presidential primary calendar. As for his thinking on whether he'll eventually make a bid for his party's presidential nomination in 2012, Pawlenty told the Union-Leader that "I haven't ruled it out, but I haven't ruled it in, either. I've got a job to do in Minnesota rule, to finish my term as governor. After that, we'll see."
But Pawlenty added that "clearly the country is in need of new and different leadership. Who that is and the message and whether somebody like me needs to be or should be the messenger, that all remains to be seen. But I just don't know, to be frank about it."
Pawlenty's expected to meet with a group of young Republicans before leaving New Hampshire Thursday and heading back to Minnesota.
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn